« ForrigeFortsæt »
file between the Guesser (who is strictly forbidden to turn his head) and the table on which the waxlight stands. The consequence of which is that each person's form is momentarily thrown upon the screen, in the shape of a black and shadowy profile.
As they pass, the Guesser is obliged to name aloud the person whose portrait he fancies he beholds. The mistakes made are sometimes very droll, when the passers cleverly change their usual gait and carriage. Whoever is guessed rightly, pays a forfeit. The game may be varied and prolonged by changing the Guesser, and by allowing the passersby to adopt some slight disguise.
Cross Questions will fill an interval between the different ways of gathering forfeits. There are several modes of putting them. One is, to write on a given number of cards so many separate questions. An equal number of answers is similarly prepared-answers which perfectly fit some imaginary inquiry, but which are very absurd when applied to others. One set of cards is placed in the hands of a lady, the other of a gentleman, each of whom shuffles and cuts their respective pack. The person who holds the questions, reads the first of them aloud, which is responded to by the other party's announcing the first answer. The inter
rogatory then continues until both packs are exhausted together.
As a sample of what may turn up, suppose:
Question. Are you of an affectionate disposition?
Answer. Whenever I can.
Q. Do you believe in lovers' vows? A. Once a month, on the thirtysecond.
Q. Are you faithful to your promises of attachment?
A. That depends on circumstances.
Q. Are you fond of dancing?
Q. Do you love me?
A. I will tell you that to-morrow.
Q. Are you capricious?
A. All day long and half the night.
Q. Are you fond of a tête-à-tête?
A. I haven't the slightest idea.
The principle of The House that Jack Built' may be extended to Games of Improvisation, which may be varied infinitely, every one being called upon to contribute his own quota of ingenuity. Suppose twelve persons seated in a circle. They draw lots for the respective places, which we will designate by the Roman numerals. No. I. has to begin the game; the others continue it in succession, each adding a little bit of his own, which all his followers are obliged to repeat, until the phrase attains the proportions of a rolling snowball. Crescit eundo, if Latin do not incur a forfeit in a Christmas Game. The choice of the starting-point rests with I.; he takes whatever on earth he pleases. The more out of the way it is,
The same thing is put in another form, thus: when the circle is formed, I., passing a key, a pocket-knife, or other small object to his neighbour, says, 'I sell you the House of my little good-man.' II. does the same to his neighbour, saying, 'I sell you the Door of the House of my little good-man. III. carries on the game with, I sell you the Lock, of the Door, of the House, of my little good-man: and so on. Whoever makes a mistake, or fails to hit upon some pertinent addition, pays a forfeit.
Quite a different affair is The Little Goodman is Still Alive. A piece of paper is twisted into a torch, lighted at a candle, and the flame blown out. As
long as any sparks are still alight, it is passed from hand to hand, each person saying, My little Goodman is still alive,' or He is hard to kill, is my little Goodman,' or, He is not dead yet, my little Goodman,' or any other phrase to the same purpose. The person in whose hands the last spark goes out pays a forfeit. As long as the fire remains strong and bright, people are in no hurry to pass it on to their neighbour, who is bound to receive it as soon as the formula is pronounced; when, on the contrary, the last spark threatens to die out, everybody gabbles with astounding rapidity, in order to get rid of it as quickly as possible. It certainly affords plenty of fun without taxing the intellect very severely.
The Game of Echo consists in telling a story which Echo is supposed to in
terrupt, whenever certain words (agreed upon beforehand) are pronounced. Each person present has to re-echo some one given word, whenever it occurs. The words selected are those likely to occur most frequently in the course of the tale. If a military anecdote have to be related, appropriate words for repetition would be soldier, uniform, gaiters, rifle, sword, scabbard, bayonet, foraging cap, havresac, &c.
For instance: One morning a brave soldier (soldier) received orders to join his regiment; so he bade adieu to his friends, and set off on foot. After walking twenty miles, feeling a little tired, he sat down at the foot of a tree, resting his rifle (rifle) against its mossy trunk. Just as he was falling off into a doze, he heard piercing cries of distress; at which, he drew his sword (sword) from its scabbard (scabbard) and fixed his bayonet (bayonet) at the end of his rifle (rifle). On reaching the spot, he found robbers plundering a lady and gentleman, One of the villains fired at him; but the shot passed through his foraging-cap (foraging-cap) without injuring a hair of his head; another struck at him with a knife, but it did not penetrate his leather gaiters (gaiters). With all their violence, they merely tore the soldier's (soldier's) uniform (uniform). The lady fainted with the fright; but the soldier (soldier), taking a cordial from his havresac (havresac), soon succeeded in restoring her to consciousness.' The yarn may be spun, ad libitum, to any length, calling forth responses from the surrounding echoes as frequently as possible. If they fail to take up the cue, a forfeit is their punishment.
In The Cricket and the Ants, you draw lots to see who first shall play the part of Cricket. That personage remains standing, while the Ants seat themselves before him in a line or round him in a circle, as pleases them best. The Cricket writes the name of some grain or other food which he selects as his diet with a pencil on a scrap of paper, which he folds and keeps concealed in his hand. After which, with a low bow to the Ants, he says, My dear friends, my worthy neighbours, I am very hungry. Won't you spare me something to eat? Then, addressing himself to one in particular, he asks, You, my dear lady, with such a good-natured face, what will you give me to stay my stomach?'
The other answers, 'I have nothing but a grain of Millet (or any other grain she chooses to select) at your service.'
Much obliged,' says the Cricket, 'but I can't eat that.' And you, my charming neighbour,' addressing another, 'what will you bestow?'
A nice little Worm, quite fat, and
No, I thank you, pretty neighbour; worms don't agree with me.'
He thus applies to one Ant after the other, who offer him a Crumb of Bread, a Fly, a grain of Wheat, Barley, Rice, &c. (indispensably something suited to his food, and which have not been mentioned before; otherwise the Ant has to pay a forfeit). When everybody has been applied to, and the article noted on the paper has not been named, the Cricket has to pay a forfeit and proceed to the second question. But if one of the Ants pronounces that word, the Cricket says, I accept it, kind friend, and may Heaven recompense your generosity! He then shows his paper, and what is written on it. The Ant pays a forfeit, and, rising from her seat, has to change places with the Cricket.
But instead of recommencing the game, the new Cricket continues it as follows. Addressing any one of the party he pleases, Neighbour,' he says,
I have had an excellent dinner, thanks to the Ants' hospitality. I now feel an inclination to dance. What dance do you advise me to try?' (The name of some dance is noted on paper, and concealed, exactly as the food had been.)
The Ants answer, 'A hornpipe-a minuet-a reel-a jig,' according to their guess or fancy. So long as the dance is not named the Cricket manifests his unwillingness to perform the one proposed. If no one hits on the right dance, the Cricket has to go on to the third question, paying a forfeit. The Ant who names any dance a second time also incurs a forfeit. On naming the dance inscribed, an Ant is metamorphosed into the Cricket.
'I am going to dance,' says the new Cricket; but dancing without music is very poor work. What instrument do you prefer me to dance to?' The Ants name the Fiddle, the Bagpipes, the Clarionet, the Piano, and so forth, until they hit on the one inscribed beforehand; the result of which is the same as on the preceding occasions.
I have had enough dancing!' the fourth Cricket exclaims. 'If you will only keep quiet, my excellent friends, and not talk so loud, and not laugh at all, I should like a nap. Where do you advise me to take it? Each Ant, interrogated, replies, ' On a Bed of Roseleaves, on the Grass, on the Sand, on a
Mossy Bank,' &c., with the same conditions as before.
The fifth and last Cricket says, 'I should sleep soundly enough on what you have named, but I fear some bird will come and eat me up. Tell me which bird is the fondest of crickets?' They guess the Nightingale, the Lark, the Rook, and so on, until the right bird has been named; after which, they proceed to redeeming the forfeits.
Forfeits should be as varied, ingenious, and unexpected as possible. New ones, invented on the spur of the moment, are sure to meet with signal success. But no one should venture to play at forfeits who has not, in the first place, perfect command of temper, or who cannot, secondly, while in the
height of merriment, observe the rules of good breeding and decorum. Young people gifted with an average amount of tact will easily distinguish between well-bred fun and vulgar coarseness. Everybody admitted into society must know that an easily-perceptible barrier separates the horse-play of rustics from the games of persons of refinement. As there are jokes permissible and jokes not permissible in ladies' company, so there may even be romping which the seasonal or the festive occasion allows, as there certainly is romping which may not, without risk of impropriety and offence, be indulged in on any occasion. It is impossible to define the limit in words. Everybody's good sense and good feeling will tell how far to go
and no farther, in relaxing the reins of strict etiquette while indulging in the outbreaks of social mirth.
In no class of forfeits is good breeding more indispensable than in that which involves the act of kissing. But a word to the wise is sufficient. Our forefathers practised them innocently, and so, it is hoped, may we; and, therefore, without further preface or sermon, we will give a few examples, beginning with the tantalizing position of being A Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance. In this, the person to pay the penalty takes his seat on a chair, when a lady comes and sits upon his knees, to be kissed by another gentleman.
Amongst penitential kisses are the Convent kiss and the Capuchin's kiss, so named out of pity, or irony, or both.
For the first the back of a chair is substituted for the grating of the convent door; and as the wooden bars are mostly wider apart than the iron ones, the former have decidedly the advantage.
For the Monastic kiss, a gentleman and lady kneel on the carpet back to back. Both then turn their heads, one to the right, the other to the left, until the desired salute is given. As the position is rather fatiguing for the lady, and might even cause her to fall, it is allowable for the gentleman delicately to help her to keep her balance with his arm.
Kissing your own shadow is performed by placing yourself between the light and the lady.
Kissing the candlestick is a little trick played on a lady whom you have
cunningly persuaded into holding a candle.
Kissing the bottom of the candlestick may be effected by placing the candlestick on the lady's head.
Showing the Spirit of Contradiction is doing the very reverse of what the company tells you to do. You are a lucky fellow, therefore, if a lady tells you that she insists upon your not kissing her. When condemned, as a forfeit, To Sulk, you whisper some one lady's name in the ear of the person who holds the forfeits, and then put yourself in a corner. The forfeit-holder commands the ladies, one after the other, to go and console you in your corner. You are obliged, however unwillingly, to turn your back on all
except the fair one whose name you had previously designated, whom you may kiss as heartily as you please.
To Go a-Begging and To Perform a Pilgrimage are favourite forfeits. For the first, you go down on your knees before a lady, and touch her hands repeatedly with your own hands clasped. She pretends to be deaf to your entreaties, and affects not to understand what it is you require. At last she asks, Do you want some bread? Do you want some water? Do you want a halfpenny? Do you want a pair of shoes?' and so on. To each of these questions you reply negatively by a shake of the head and continued supplications with your clasped hands. At last she inquires, 'Do you want a
kiss? At which you jump up joyfully, and immediately take the proffered salute.
For the second, we will suppose the company to form a sort of circle. You take a lady by the hand, and lead her round the circle, presenting her to every person present; saying to the gentlemen, A kiss, if you please, for my little sister, and a little bit of bread for myself: to the ladies, 'A little bit of bread for my little sister, and a kiss for myself.' The kiss can by no means be refused.
In Distributing Kisses by Chance, the person forfeited, unfortunately, has none for himself. He takes separately the four kings and the four queens out of a pack of cards, shuffles them separately, and then gives one each of the first to any four gentlemen he chooses in the company, and one each of the
second to any four ladies. The holder of the king of hearts is bound to kiss the holderess of the queen of hearts, and so on of the rest. All which seems slow work to the kiss-distributor. Nevertheless, he may derive a little amusement in giving the kings to the vainest young gentlemen present, and the queens to the oldest or plainest ladies.
If condemned to the Kiss with a Right-about Face, you must go and stand with your back to a door, where you call upon a lady to come and stand opposite to you, facing you. She then calls on a gentleman, who places himself close to her, back to back; which goes on until the whole company has formed a line of couples. At a signal from the Mistress of the Revels, everybody performs the evolution of rightabout face, and kisses the person so